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SERIES: Draped Bust Dollars 1795-1803
LEVEL: Minor Variety or Die Variety

1798 $1 B-33 BB-117 (Regular Strike)

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40.00 millimeters
Robert Scot
27.00 grams
Metal Content:
90% Silver, 10% Copper
Condition Census (Explain)
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PCGS VF35  
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Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PCGS VF35  
Q. David Bowers: The following narrative, with minor editing, is from my "Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia" (Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc., 1993). Note: the Notable Specimens list should be used with caution - it has been updated in my 2013 edition of "The Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars 1794-1804."


OBVERSE 13: See description under 1798 BB-113. On this variety the highest hair curl is very weak and indistinct. The horizontal die flaws in the right field inside stars 10 and 12 are bold. A horizontal die scratch is just above the back of the head, below IB of LIBERTY.

Obverse die used to strike BB-1l3 (1st use), 1798 BB-114 (2nd use), BB-115 (3rd use), BB-1I6 (4th use), BB-117 (5th use), BB-118 (6th use), BB-119 (7th and final use).

REVERSE O: Arc star pattern. Point of star almost touches upper beak (only three arc-pattern reverse dies, those used to coin BB-116, BB-117, and BB-125 have the ray at beak); ray points to right side of B in PLURIBUS. No stars touch clouds, although the last is very close. 13 perfect arrows. Lowest arrow extends just past right edge of left upright of N in UNITED. Top left berry is the smallest of 5 berries; the top right is the largest. The lowest berry is directly below the left tip of the right foot of final A. Final A does not touch claw. The first A in AMERICA does not touch either the third or fourth feather. Point of leaf below left side of upright of I in AMERICA. From claws, branch stem angles down to the right, then back toward the left, pointing toward the tail feathers. Left base of E in UNITED higher than the base of T. Left base of E in STATES higher than base of T, Letters in AMER very close at their bases. A short die scratch extends just over 1 mm. from the right top of the shield.

Reverse die used to strike 1798 BB-117 only.


Die State I: Obverse: Cracks in about the same state as BB-116. Sawtooth-type clash marks not visible (relapped?). Perfect reverse die. May not exist with perfect reverse die.

Die State II: Obverse: As preceding. Reverse: Crack from denticles through right arm of T in UNITED, into field below left ribbon end. Another crack from denticles, connecting left serifs of M to right ribbon. The die is bulged between and joining these two cracks. Presumably, these cracks eventually joined to form Die State III. Cf. Spies Collection (Stack's, 1974): 111.

Die State III: Obverse: As preceding. Reverse: Heavy die crack bisects the reverse from 8 o'clock to 3 o'clock. Rust pits in shield. Cf. Spies Collection (Stack's, 1974):112.

COLLECTING NOTES: 1798 BB-117, unknown to Haseltine and Bolender, shares honors with BB-103 as one of the two rarest varieties of the year. The number of specimens known is a matter of conjecture. The W. Earl Spies Collection (Stack's, 1974) had two, both EF, and both of a different die state.


Blevins Specimen. EF-45. Superior Galleries, H.W. Blevins Collection, 1988:3699. "Both the obverse and reverse posses a lovely, rich, deep gray color punctuated by golden undertones on the obverse. The obverse is extremely well impressed and shows a most unusual doubled profile; the reo verse has extremely good detail with most of the feathers defined.". James Matthews Collection.

Spies Specimen. EF-40. Stack's, W. Earl Spies Collection, 1974:111. "Unknown to either Bolender or Haseltine. Obverse Bolender-26, reverse is new. A tiny engraver's scratch from upper right point of the shield. A massive crack starts at the rim through the right part of 'T' and terminates in a large 'mound' at juncture of left wing of eagle. Fully EF and lustrous."

Spies Specimen (another). EF-40. Stack's, W. Earl Spies Collection, 1974:112. "Reverse die crack has totally bisected the reverse from 'T' to 'M' in what must be the terminal state of the dies. R-8 in the Spies Collection. EF with pale pink and iridescent toning."

Superior Galleries; H. Roland Willasch Collection, 1990:516. "Boldly struck with original gray and pink toning throughout. Obverse is well struck even though a massive die crack appeared on the reverse which often renders the obverse strike weak. Reverse terminal die state-a pronounced die crack spans the reverse from the T in UNITED to the M of AMERICA. In the field below the left wing of the eagle the crack is really just a large area of swelling."